June 21, 2018

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Seven Steps to Finding a Job You Love

Step #1: Identify Why You Are Changing Careers

The first step in any career change is to identify why you are looking for a change. It is important to know whether you are trying to move away from something or if you are trying to move toward something. Ultimately, it is much more empowering to move toward something as opposed to trying to escape from something.

Step # 2: Create a Personal Vision & Specify Your Goals

Finding work you love involves creating a very clear vision of your future work situation. Here are some questions to guide:

Try to think through every aspect of a normal day. Don’t be afraid to outline what might feel like unrealistic or pie-in-the-sky options. The purpose here is to get very clear on what it is you want. Spend plenty of time on these questions and write out your answers in a notebook or journal.

Step #3: Re-Connect With Your Interests

Many of us lose touch with our interests. To help get your self-knowledge flowing, answer the following questions over the course of a typical week:

Do you notice some of your interests emerging on a consistent basis? Are you able to narrow it down to two or three top interests?

Do not worry yet whether the interests you have identified have any possibilities as careers. You are just beginning the self-exploration process.

Step #4: Re-Connect With Your Values

Interests and values go together like a lock and a key so the next step is to explore your values. Values are deeply held convictions that compel us into action. When personal values are not being met it can be a major source of job dissatisfaction. To uncover some of your strongest inner values try to answer some or all of the following questions:

These questions are likely to take more thought than any of the others so take your time with them. Your values are at the core of what motivates you in life. When you find work that is in sync with one or more of your values, you will feel a great desire to do that work. It will feel more like your “calling” rather than merely a job and you will gain a sense of importance about the work you are doing. Try to sum up your answers from the questions in this step and then identify your top three values.

Step #5: Know Your Abilities!

Now you know why you are looking to change careers (better pay? more fulfillment?), what you would like your future work day to look like (nine to five? three weeks vacation? on-site gym?), your areas of interest (history? biology? human development?) and your values (education? tenacity? helping others?). The next step in the process is to connect these emotional components with what you are actually hard-wired to do. You can find this out by taking a natural abilities test.

There are several sources of abilities testing available. I use The Highlands Ability Battery. I have heard of other people using the Johnson-O’Connor test. You can find these tests via personal coaches, college career centers, state-run career centers, etc.

Abilities tests define your natural abilities based on timed work samples. This allows for an objective way of discovering (or affirming) the kind of work to which you are best suited. These tests also tell you about your preference for introversion or extroversion, your time frame orientation, your preference for abstract or tangible work, and other work style information. It is important to know and confirm the type of abilities that come quickly and easily to you. When you find work that calls upon these abilities, it will not only be easier for you to succeed, but you will also gain a greater sense of satisfaction from your work.

Step #6: Inventory Your Skills

Your skills augment your natural abilities. They are things you have picked up along the way in your career journey (public speaking, computer programming, project management, etc.). These are the areas that you have experience in, courses you have taken, on-the-job training you may have received or any other areas where you feel you have gained competence.

Look at past resumes, project notes and performance reviews to create a thorough list of skills you have acquired and would like to continue to use in the future. Narrow your list down to three to five skill areas that you feel are your strongest.

Step #7: Create A Road Map to Actual Positions

To complete Step 7, use the information you have collected from Steps 1 through 6 and put them on a note card in this format:

  • Top three personal interests

  • Top three core values

  • Top three natural ability areas

  • Top three to five acquired skills

    Once you have created this card, start showing it to friends, relatives and anyone else you might consult. Ask them what kind of job this list describes to them. Do they know anyone who has a job like this? If so, perhaps they can help you line up informational interviews to confirm that this type of work would indeed be of interest to you. One of my clients took this card to a trade show and discovered two new job titles that neither of us had ever heard of before. After two informational interviews with people in those positions, she had found a perfect new career opportunity that neither of us would have ever known existed!

    A few final notes about undertaking a career change:

    Be thorough, be persistent and be true to yourself and you will find the job of your dreams. These steps will need your attention for a little while. However, be sure your financial situation is stable while you go through the career change process. Get creative about making ends meet but don't ignore the need to.

    It is normal to be anxious, regardless of whether you are currently working or not. You are considering making a major change from the status quo. Let these feelings rise and fall. Talk it out with your friends, a career coach or write about them in your journal. Making a career change can be stressful but don’t let that stop you from finding work you love!

    -Deirdre McEachern
    Deirdre McEachern’s walked away from the high stress world of high-tech and now loves her work as a career coach. She believes strongly that everyone can find a career which they enjoy, expresses their passion and uses their natural talents. You can contact Deirdre at

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